MANILA, November 5, 2005
 (STAR) By Alma Anonas-Carpio - They teach, they lead and they innovate – and they have earned recognition for their efforts to integrate information and communications technology into their vocation of teaching.

Besting a field of 138 competitors, 25 of whom were listed as finalists, five teachers went home with the Innovative Teachers Leadership Awards (ITLA), the top teaching award of the Partners in Learning (PiL) initiative of Microsoft Philippines.

In ceremonies held at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Ortigas Center, Pasig City last Thursday night, Microsoft Philippines announced this year’s ITLA winners: Ma. Cecila Correa of Manila Science High School; Christie Anne Dagamac of Ormoc City’s Ipil National High School; Cecilia Mag-isa Estoque of Agusan National High School; Francisco Garcia of Manila Science High School; and Evelyn Manahan of Iligan City East High School.

The five will be the country’s representatives to the Innovative Teachers Regional Conference in Seoul, South Korea, a gathering of educators from 16 Asia-Pacific countries.

Correa, Dagamac, Estoque, Garcia and Manahan bested 25 finalists from a total of 138 nominees all over the country. They were chosen after presenting their Digital Portfolios of Work to a panel of judges from the PiL Community.

Last year, Sherlita Daguisonan, a teacher from Iligan City East National High School, was one of the winners in the Regional Innovative Teachers Leadership Awards and went on to compete in the global tilt in Redmond, Washington.

A physics teacher, Dagamac submitted as her contest entry a lesson for energizing a barangay. Through this lesson, her students learned about and expanded their knowledge of energy resources development in a practical setting.

Dagamac’s students researched on the Internet to look for the answers to a set of questions given to them and evaluated the various risks and benefits associated with energy development. They then created comic strips showing how to energize a given barangay using various software available in the computer laboratory.

A product of the public school system until she finished her degree, Dagamac told The STAR that she created and used the barangay electrification module because "getting the students interested in science through the use of technology is part of getting students to love science like I love science."

Dagamac is the only science teacher to win the ITLA this year.

Correa, an English teacher, was picked as one of the ITLA winners after she used technology to teach her class about the Harper Lee novel To Kill a Mockingbird.

She divided her class into five groups, which were asked to shoot a five-minute film based on the book using a video camera. Each group was told to formulate questions to ask the other groups and anticipate the questions that it may receive from the other groups.

In the class discussions covering this lesson, the class evaluated the video productions and defended the behavior of the characters from the novel using rubrics. Selected students were also asked to prepare the author’s background and a summary of the novel using PowerPoint, as well as prepare a digital portfolio to be presented in class. Correa said her students enjoyed the activity very much because it was their first time to present in class using a video camera.

Also an English teacher, Estoque submitted a collaborative "planet-creation" module based on Antoine de St. Exupery’s opus The Little Prince as her entry."

According to Estoque, "the collaborative nature of the project hopes to bring about an appreciation of one’s own and others’ culture because the planet to be created takes into consideration the student’s personality, experiences, environment and culture."

Under this module, each student was asked to describe his or her own encounter with the Little Prince on his or her own planet; share this planet and encounter with the Little Prince with other students; receive observations about their own planets and encounters with the Little Prince; and make observations about others’ planets and encounters with the Little Prince.

Garcia, who teaches Filipino, used Short Messaging Service (SMS) and computer technology to turn Francisco Balagtas’ epic poem Florante at Laura into an interactive story. He made use of Microsoft Movie Maker in his lessons on the epic love poem and, through these media, was able to arouse his students’ interest in the pure, chivalrous love story of Florante and Laura despite Balagtas’ use of deep Tagalog words.

"It is because I feel strongly about teaching these students the values that are intrinsic in this literary work, in this story, that I came up with (my ITLA entry)," Garcia said.

"At Manila Science High School, the students prioritize math and science, not Filipino," he added. "But teaching our native language is more than just teaching language, it is teaching our children who we are and passing on to them the lessons and values of our culture as Filipinos. That is as vital to every Filipino as math and science."

Manahan’s students were assigned to promote their hometown as a tourist destination using a digital photo story – a lesson that became her winning ITLA entry.

Her students were asked to gather photographs and information about their hometown, which they used to create their photo stories using Microsoft PowerPoint. These stories became multimedia presentations Manahan’s students showed to their class.

According to Manahan, the use of technology in teaching enhanced her students’ resourcefulness and stimulated their creativity and the activity itself taught them more about the place they call home.

"The innovations that these teachers implemented using computer technology concretely made a difference in their communities," PiL advisory council chairman and president Fr. Jomar Legaspi said.

"Their experiences affirmed our advocacy – technology is a useful and relevant tool for teaching and, especially in the far-flung areas of the nation which may be at a disadvantage because of their remote locations, it helps level the playing field and gives opportunities of learning to the students that they may otherwise not have had."

"The impressive work and performance of our participating teachers really overwhelmed and humbled us," Microsoft Philippines director for academic affairs Sam Jacoba said.

"More than ever, Microsoft’s Partners in Learning initiative is a long-term commitment and we are steadfast in our goal to equip Filipino students with skills needed to globally compete and lead in a technology-driven economy," he added.

ITLA is a program that aims to give recognition to creative and innovative teachers who are able to integrate computer technology into classroom teaching and learning.

PiL is conducted by Microsoft Philippines in partnership with the Department of Education (DepEd), government and academic leaders, and local industry partners to empower Filipino educators and their students with the latest computer technologies.

NGO partners Philippine Business for Social Progress and help implement the program.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

All rights reserved